What to Eat after a Workout

Smiling woman on a treadmill checks her smart watch
Smiling woman on a treadmill checks her smart watch

What Happens during a Workout?

When you work out, whether lifting weights or running laps, your muscles use glycogen energy stores.2 Muscle fibers and proteins also get stressed or temporarily damaged, especially during strength training exercise. Proper rest and nutrition help rebuild your glycogen stores and repair muscle tissue.2

Eating a diet with a combination of carbohydrates, protein and vitamins and minerals speeds the repair process up and gets you ready for your next gym session.1, 2, 3

Eating after Working Out

The types of food you should eat after a workout depend on the intensity and duration of your exercise.1 After endurance exercises like running or cycling for more than an hour, meals high in carbohydrates are beneficial, while proteins are helpful after strength training exercises like lifting weights.3

And know that there’s no need to shy away from eating healthy fats after a workout, as they can also be beneficial to your body.2

Hydrating Fluids

Do consume water before, during and after your workouts.1, 2 Before and during your exercise, drinking water may make your workout feel easier.2 It’s also critical to helping your body recover from activity.

Not only does drinking water replace the liquid that you lose from sweating, but it also replenishes electrolytes.2 Drinking hydrating fluids can help with transporting nutrients to your cells and clearing waste out of the body after a workout.2


Foods with protein are important for muscle growth and repair.1 For quick post-workout snacks, protein shakes and foods such as yogurt, cheese and nuts provide easy protein.2

Incorporate these protein-rich foods into your next post-workout meal.

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Nuts


Exercise burns carbohydrates, the main fuel for your muscles.2 Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, or blood sugar, to use as energy.2 Eating plenty of carbohydrates fuels your body and helps it recover from activity.

Complex carbohydrates found in fruits, veggies and grains contain important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Try these complex carbohydrates-rich foods in your post-workout diet.2

  • Brown rice
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Whole-wheat bread and cereal
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Fruit
  • Dairy, like milk or yogurt

Dietary fiber is an important type of carbohydrate that adds bulk to your diet and aids digestion. Include foods with dietary fiber into your post-workout meals, like whole grains, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables.4

When to Eat

Ideally, you should eat before and after working out to fuel your body and repair your muscles.2, 3

If you’re exercising for less than 60 minutes at the beginning of the day, it’s okay to exercise on an empty stomach.1 Otherwise, you should eat beforehand. Consuming complex carbohydrates about two-to-four hours before exercising helps give you energy to sustain your workout.2

Eating and drinking after a workout is an important part of your body’s recovery--and helps you avoid fatigue or irritability.3 Try to eat a snack within 45 minutes and two hours post workout.1, 2 Ideally, eating within 30 to 60 minutes provides the most benefits for muscle repair.2 Starting the process soon after your exercise session helps lessen muscle soreness and cramping.3

If you aren’t hungry immediately after a workout, consider a liquid option like a protein drink.3 Follow your post-workout snack with a nutritious, protein-rich meal a few hours later.1

Easy Post-Work Out Foods

Balanced food choices after a workout don’t need to be complicated or boring. Try one of these healthy snacks after the gym.3

  • Almonds washed down with a cup of milk
  • Greek yogurt with granola and berries
  • String cheese and pretzels
  • Apple slices and peanut butter

While eating a nutritious snack after working out refuels your body, it’s important to eat healthy throughout the entire day. Incorporate lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber into each of your daily meals.2

More Ways to Incorporate Fiber

Eating a healthy diet, rich in protein, complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber, helps fuel your body and repair your muscles after a workout.1, 2, 3

If you find it challenging to get fiber from your diet alone, a supplement like Benefiber can help. Clear, taste-free Benefiber Original helps ensure you’re eating enough dietary fiber before or after a workout. Add Benefiber stick packs to any post-workout food or beverage for easy, on-the-go fiber.

Show ReferencesHide References

  1. Nutrition and athletic performance. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002458.htm. Accessed 4/29/22.
  2. The Best Ways to Fuel Your Workouts. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-ways-to-fuel-your-workouts-might-surprise-you/. Accessed 4/29/22.
  3. Should You Eat Before or After a Workout? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-to-eat-before-and-after-a-workout/. Accessed 4/29/22.
  4. Dietary Fiber. https://medlineplus.gov/dietaryfiber.html. Accessed 4/29/22.

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